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Wingenroth proves point with record performance

Hart running back bests single-game school rushing record

Posted: November 16, 2013 2:12 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2013 2:12 p.m.
 

It was the hardest thing in his football career to do — watch.

Through the first half of the 2013 prep football season, Hart High senior running back Connor Wingenroth was arguably the Santa Clarita Valley’s most valuable player.

Then he was sandwiched on his first run of the game at Santa Monica High on Oct. 4, a helmet knocking his shoulder out of place. He was forced to watch the next three games from the sideline.

He wasn’t the same force he was earlier in the season in disappointing back-to-back losses to Valencia and Canyon.

It led Hart head coach Mike Herrington to declare after the loss to Canyon on Nov. 8: “Connor played a hell of a game. He’s not in the shape he was in before the injury.”

Then Friday night’s performance led Herrington to tell Wingenroth: “You’re back.”

Recovered from a separated shoulder and admittedly with a point to prove, the senior running back ran for a school record 308 yards on 26 carries. That performance bested Delano Howell’s (who by the way is in the NFL today) 270 yards on Nov. 17, 2006 against Thousand Oaks.

And Hart beat Paso Robles in Paso Robles 56-35 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.

“I didn’t really know I had the record till today,” Wingenroth said on Saturday. “It’s a huge honor to be mentioned with Delano (and other great Hart running backs).”

A full-strength Wingenroth may have been the piece Hart needed the last couple of weeks of the season.

Hart was nearly everyone’s favorite to win the Foothill League title before the season started, but the last two losses put the Indians in third place and forced them to travel to Paso Robles.

Was it an upset that they won?

Not really.

The Indians are the most dangerous third-place team in the bracket and a definite Northern Division title contender.

Wingenroth, as any good running back does, pointed to the play of his offensive line against Paso in the division playoffs opener as a key to the win.

The largely inexperienced line was a question mark for Hart coming into the season.

Clearly not anymore.

Wingenroth also pointed to a play made by the defense that gave the Indians a boost.

In the fourth quarter, Andrew MacArthur got his hand on a pass that then deflected into the hands of Cody Shoemaker who took the interception in for a Hart touchdown.

“That was huge,” Wingenroth said. “Defense stopped them all night, but gave up some big plays. We didn’t get any turnovers then that play helped us a lot. Gave our offense a break and allowed us to get the momentum.”

Hart faces No. 1 seeded Palos Verdes at College of the Canyons on Friday in the second round.

P.V. ended Hart’s season in last year’s playoffs.

The Indians did the same to the Sea Kings in the 2011 playoffs.

“This will be the rubber match,” Wingenroth said.

And Hart will be at full strength with another point to prove.

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